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Monday, November 30, 2020

No person or authority can shut down TRRC Letter to Momodou Sabally

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Dear Sabally,
As ungodly as you suggested the TRRC to be, you cannot do anything about it. Can you shut down the TRRC within 24 hours? No person or authority can close down the TRRC. Try it and face the consequence of your action. TRRC cannot change their ways because of your threat to shut them down.

I was astonished after listening to your (21 minutes) audio that you have published and shared over the social media about the TRRC. You have touched on two fundamental aspects of the transition; truth and reconciliation process as well as the constitutional building process. You have uttered misleading statements therein and this is what prompted my reaction to the audio through this letter.

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TRRC is a national institution which is here for a purpose that people are appreciative of. It does not belong to the West as you proposed. It was established by us because we deemed it fit that it was needed. You will agree with me that the Government that you have served and praise-sang was the same government that has victimised Gambians. Thus, the coming of the TRRC to investigate past human rights violations that happened under that Government is timely and crucial. TRRC is here to dig into past human rights violations and not to investigate any religious group.

Your suggestion that there are groups in this world fighting Islam may be true but it is important to highlight that the TRRC is not an accomplice to the fight against Islam. The TRRC belongs to us and not the West. You have suggested that what people take the Commission to be is not what its real purpose is because it is here to fight Islam. This is propaganda, Sir. Don’t mislead the people. The employees at the TRRC including the Commissioners and the Counsels are Gambians. It is important to point out that all the victims, experts and perpetrators are all Gambians. The TRRC have their established procedure and this is what they have been following; they are not following the dictates of any group or persons. Be sincere please because all you have talked about the TRRC is not factual. If you disagree with me come up with facts and not mere arguments to support your misleading allegations.

Gambians have trust in the TRRC process and it is a victim-centred process. Therefore, as an intellectual and a public figure, you are expected not to say anything that will tend to lower the image of the TRRC process.
Your miscalculated sentiment against the TRRC was very unfortunate and it will be important that you retract it and apologise to the Gambians particularly the Lead Counsel, Essa M. Faal.

Let me point out that Counsel Faal has never insulted any of the Imams who appeared before the Commission including Imam Fatty. Drop that argument because you cannot substantiate it with any evidence. Don’t mislead the people.

Take your time because your religious belief cannot override the belief of others. Therefore, since we have differences in our various beliefs, you have to exercise tolerance because we are all sovereign people with equal rights and freedoms.

Sabally, how could you question the purposes and objectives of the TRRC? How dare you say the TRRC process is ungodly? Read the Act of the National Assembly that established the TRRC because everything about the TRRC is stated there.

I understand how you felt with the way the Lead Counsel, Essa M. Faal questioned one of your favourite Imams, Abdoulie Fatty but that shouldn’t have merited you to say what you have voiced in that audio against Faal.

Sabally Momodou, take Yankuba Touray’s case before the TRRC as an example. When he refused to testify before the Commission the public reacted quickly and he was almost assaulted when the police rescued him. You will agree me with me that in the case of Imam Fatty and Counsel Faal nothing like that happened. It is only a few people reacting to Counsel Faal’s line of questioning to Imam Fatty. It is understandable that it is about the love you have for the Imam but that does not mean Counsel Faal was out of order.

Counsel Faal was doing what was expected of him. If you feel otherwise, it is a matter of your opinion and therefore, your opinion cannot outweigh the opinion of others.
Counsel Faal’s advocacy skill to solicit answers from perpetrators is unquestionable. Your Imam, Abdoulie Fatty refused to admit to his wrong acts and the Lead Council, like always, persisted in asking him questions to solicit answers from him.

No one is saying he is not an Imam. His knowledge was not questioned by the Lead Counsel. The Lead Counsel was interested in his activities particularly those that caused the victimisation of some people.

Also, you have stated that Muslims and Christians have been living thousands of years. This is not accurate and you will agree with me that Islam is just about a century and half. There is no possibility that Muslims and Christians in the Gambia have lived for more than a century. You can’t support your argument with historical fact. Drop that argument also because it lacks merit. In summary most of the things you have stated about the relationship between the Christian Council and the Supreme Islamic Council with the use of the strong word “never” cannot be supported by history.

It is an established fact that the Supreme Islamic Council was founded 28 years ago; precisely 1992. Therefore, the relationship that exists between the two councils is less than thirty (30) years. You will agree with me that the number of years you have mentioned was an exaggeration and therefore, it was misleading and inaccurate.

Importantly, you have stated in the audio that in the Gambia whenever people are gathered including national gatherings both Muslims and Christians lead them in prayers and there have been no problems. I guess you have a problem with understanding. You failed to realise that the practice signifies respect for one another’s religious beliefs. It shows respect and tolerance for the religious beliefs. This is what the Constitution that you have ignorantly caricatured in your audio promotes by making the freedom to religious belief, conscience and thought a right to each and every person residing in the Gambia.

Also, the same Constitution provides for the freedom to practise any religion and to manifest such practice. This means no religious group is recognized over the other and this is why freedom of religion is made a fundamental human right; meaning no person or authority can trample on it. You have manifested that you do not understand the Constitution. You said you don’t believe in the Constitution; that you believe in the Sharia. That is fine. It is your choice but it will be erroneous if you try to caricature the people’s book because you will have us to face.

In your entire utterances in the audio it appears as if Islam being the largest religious group is also the minority in the country because the laws particularly the Constitution are not in your favour. This is totally false. I refer you to section 25 and 33 of the Constitution. These two provisions will be useful to you because one provides for the freedom to religious belief and to manifest such belief and the other prohibits discrimination against any person or group. You need to be taught the Constitution because you have greatly manifested that you don’t understand it.

You have stated that you don’t believe in the Constitution and you will never believe in it. This is a strange comment from an intellectual of your calibre who many young people are looking up to. You are teaching them to disrespect the Constitution; our supreme law. This is ridiculous in my view. How could say that? Sabally, you have the duty to defend the Constitution and your utterance suggested that you are with the belief that it is an ungodly book.

My brother, I am sorry to tell you that you cannot do anything about it. The Constitution is here for every person in the Gambia. It will interest you to know if the draft Constitution fails the 1997 Constitution will remain. Whatever you want to be removed from the Constitution must be subjected to views and aspiration of the people.
There are two things on the table that you need to know. One is the draft constitution that the CRC will provide us (as promised) will stand the test of time and entrench Gambia’s future. Secondly, if we vote against the draft constitution then this means we are going to maintain the current (1997) Constitution.

Start to have a choice. That is do you want this Constitution to be maintained or you want a new Constitution that will stand the test of time?

The religious rights and freedoms that you detest are entrenched rights. You cannot change them. The Supreme Islamic Council cannot change them. It is the whole Gambia who can do that. Tell me, if you know, is there any provision of law that is more progressive than having one that recognises all religious beliefs and allowing each to practice and manifest such beliefs? Tell me, if you disagree, we are not in the era of using force (including conquers) for people to forsake their practices and therefore, tolerance is what is needed.

Also, your bold statement that the next Constitution must emanate from the Quran and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad was a misplaced argument. You will agree with me that the Sharia is a way of life of only Muslims. You will also agree with me that the Gambia is a Republic that has other religious groups. Don’t you think we need progressive laws that will guarantee each and every religious group equal rights and freedom to practice and manifest their beliefs? What is more important than having laws that promote tolerance to one another’s faith?

Sabally, no one is saying do not stand and defend Islam but you must not forget that the Gambia does not belong to one religious group. We cannot have laws that will elbow out other religious groups in favour of Islam. We should advocate for laws that won’t supress any religious group. I am saying no discriminatory law should be promulgated.
Your sincerely,
Yankuba Jallow,
Final Year Law Student.

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